Strategies for Efficient Energy Consumption in Electrical Blueprints

Electrical Blueprints
Blueprints act as a road map for electricity, giving builders a visual overview of where everything needs to go in a residential or commercial building. Knowing how to read electrical blueprints is a must for anyone interested in pursuing an electrical technology career. Equipped with this knowledge, it is possible to make an impact not only for homeowners and businesses that rely on electrical technology but also by driving eco-friendly initiatives.

Do you have an interest in environmentalism as it relates to electrical technology? You could have a bright future as a forward-thinking electrician in a rapidly evolving field.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how energy efficiency has become a must for new construction and even older buildings. Along the way, you will discover what is needed to extract actionable information from blueprints and how improved energy efficiency can be achieved through the installation of cutting-edge electrical systems.

What Is the Purpose of Reducing Power Consumption in a Circuit?

Besides the obvious financial benefits of reduced power consumption, there are several other reasons to strive for more conservative usage levels. As with most electrical and mechanical devices, a circuit that functions properly will be more efficient, as this limits potential losses due to resistance.[1]

Proper Circuit Function

If an electrical device consumes more power than usual, there is likely a fault somewhere in the circuit. One of the most common causes of a bad circuit is an overload, in which too much power is delivered to the circuit, causing it to fail. This is the exact opposite of energy efficiency, and it’s an issue that must be fixed in a timely fashion.[2] After all, overloads prompt many issues beyond poor efficiency, including loss of power and an increased potential for fires.

Creating More Efficient Circuits

In most areas of engineering and electronics, conserving power isn’t so much about redesigning machines and circuits to simply consume less electricity; it’s about creating the most efficient way to store and use the power that has already been created. Efficient circuits will suffer fewer shorts, if any, and lead to a marked decrease in electric consumption.

What Are the Different Strategies for Electrical Blueprints?

No two electrical jobs are identical, given the sheer variety of elements that play into commercial or residential structures. Simply put, the blueprints used to wire a home for lighting will differ greatly from those used to install a furnace or central air conditioning system. Essential strategies for electrical blueprints relate to overall lighting design, HVAC systems, the building envelope, and the electrical system in general.

Lighting Design

Blueprints required for lighting largely echo the overhead floorplans that demonstrate square footage and general layout. Essentials include wiring each room so that the light switches are in their proper place (as well as the light fixtures themselves). This calls for an in-depth study of the blueprints. Knowing how to read electrical blueprint symbols will give electricians the knowledge they need to easily wire a home for any kind of lighting setup.

HVAC Design

It’s easy to assume that the professionals who install the heating and cooling systems in a residential or commercial building do most of the work. While they no doubt shoulder a heavy load, their work would be wasted without the electricity to power the thermostat and electrical switches inside the units. Blueprints dedicated to HVAC system design are crucial to determining where to install wiring for the thermostat and the space that will contain the furnace.

Building Envelope Design

The building envelope is responsible for much of the energy consumed by commercial and residential structures. This concept refers to the main structures both in and outside the home, which act as primary thermal barriers. These include the foundation, roof and windows outside the building, along with the interior walls.

Blueprints for the building envelope allow electricians to get a feel for the overall flow of the building, as well as provide an overview of the wiring of the entire structure.

Electrical System Design

The rise of cookie-cutter building design may give outside viewers the impression that every home or commercial structure looks and functions the same. In reality, each building contains unique features and challenges that make an accurate reading and comprehension of the overall electrical system blueprints a must from the electrician’s perspective.

While some homes may require more power in the garage to help charge an electric car, others may demand increased outdoor electrical capabilities for a pool or outdoor kitchen. Meanwhile, commercial structures hold vastly different needs shaped by the industry of the business and the everyday roles and responsibilities of employees.

Given the sheer variety of modern electrical systems, a nuanced understanding of electrical technology is essential. Electricians should recognize which concerns contribute to circuit functionality or increase the potential for overloads and other issues.

What Are Different Ways to Improve Efficiency in Existing Buildings?

Concerning data highlighted by the US Department of Energy reveals that 20 to 30 percent of the energy used to power schools and commercial buildings is currently wasted via inefficient energy consumption.[3] Thankfully, there are several ways to tackle this glaring problem, and it is often possible to boost efficiency without relying on new constructions.

This is best demonstrated by the many organizations that have joined and even embraced the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge to reduce energy consumption. This initiative aims to address common sources of inefficiency by asking leading executives to commit to green practices. This effort usually centers around showcasing products involving retrofitting or retro-commissioning while also tracking critical energy and water usage data.

On a large scale, the goal of the Better Buildings Challenge is to “improve the energy use of our nation’s commercial, industrial, residential, and public buildings” while harnessing the combined power of “public and private sector leadership, state and local policies, financing mechanisms, workforce development, and efforts to improve building energy information.”[4]

At the organizational level and especially among electricians, this challenge provides insight into the most impactful initiatives that promise to reduce energy consumption. Essentials for boosting efficiency without relying on new builds include:

Energy Audits

Designed to assess energy consumption, audits can provide valuable insight into opportunities for reducing usage. Outside audits are particularly important, as these give trained professionals the chance to examine processes and practices to see where improvements can be made.

Detailed audits may reveal the need to reduce electromagnetic interference or prevent ohmic losses with different types of wires. Switching speed optimization or power management strategies may also be required. These audits rely on a variety of tools or technologies to verify circuit efficiency, including oscilloscopes, multimeters and software solutions.[5]

Optimizing Windows and Doors

Windows and doors are responsible for significant energy losses, especially in today’s residential settings. According to the Department of Energy, approximately 30 percent of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows.[6]

By utilizing the warmth of the sun in the winter (and, conversely, limiting the sun’s heating impact in the summer), it is possible to maximize windows’ energy efficiency.

From the homeowner’s perspective, there are several easy and affordable ways to accomplish this. Blackout curtains and drapes have been shown to reduce heat gains by more than 30 percent in the summer months and, when closed during the cold months, can reduce heat loss by up to 10 percent.

While this may seem like a decidedly dark solution, there are other ways to bring light into the home and remain energy efficient. In summer months, windows that don’t receive direct sunlight can be free to let in some rays. Meanwhile, in the winter, it’s best to utilize the windows that get direct sunlight, which will aid in warming a room. Door efficiency can be improved through proper caulking and weatherstripping.

Replacements will sometimes be necessary to limit losses attributed to windows and doors. This should be considered as part of comprehensive plans to boost efficiency, and cutting-edge solutions such as electrochromic windows may provide further opportunities to achieve greater efficiency. As experts in Popular Science explain, these can darken as needed to reduce cooling costs and can even be beneficial from a privacy perspective.[7]

Energy Certified Equipment

Strategic equipment selection can play a crucial role in determining overall energy efficiency. No matter how efficient the electrical system design seems, there is no overcoming inefficient equipment or appliances.

While there are many ways to assess equipment efficiency, ENERGY STAR is widely regarded as the gold standard. Facilitated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), this program plays a critical role in selecting and purchasing equipment and appliances.[8]

ENERGY STAR data also reflects the efficiency of entire structures. For example, prominently featured ENERGY STAR scorecards provide valuable insight into energy use intensity.[9] This represents the “total annual energy consumed by the building [divided] by the total gross floor area of the building,” and typically, a low-intensity rating represents desirable energy performance.

Use of Software and Tools

Advancements in computer software and integrated tools make it easier to assess energy usage and take targeted steps toward reducing consumption. It takes considerable technical know-how to make the most of these systems, but once mastered, they can become an invaluable part of the process of designing and implementing electrical blueprints.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

Computer-aided design (CAD) can be useful for designing new constructions and retrofitting new energy-efficient systems into existing buildings. On the new design front, computer models can predict energy usage. This, in turn, limits the potential for a worrisome phenomenon: constructing buildings that are later revealed to be inefficient.

For older buildings retrofitted with more efficient electrical systems, computer-aided design software can pinpoint the structure’s areas of inefficiency and suggest solutions for resolving these concerns.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

The term “building information modeling” refers to the non-physical data that make up a building. From the very beginning of a structure’s lifecycle, BIM creates and manages every digital aspect of the building, beginning in the initial design and planning phase and continuing through the completion of the project.[10]

With the entire building essentially functioning as a digital blueprint, designers and engineers can use BIM to design and implement energy-efficient processes throughout the structure, utilizing a range of tools and software programs to maximize electrical efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and minimize waste.

Knowing how to efficiently wire a home is a must for today’s electricians. Learn how to wire a home, building or office with the Electrical Technology program at Carrington College.



[1] LinkedIn. “How can you make electronic circuits more energy-efficient?”

[2] Thiele, T. “Electrical Circuit Overload Problems and Prevention.” The Spruce.

[3] United States Department of Energy. “About the Better Buildings Challenge.”

[4] United States Department of Energy. “Frequently Asked Questions Better Buildings Challenge.”

[5] LinkedIn. “What are the best ways to optimize electronic circuit efficiency?”

[6] US Department of Energy. “Energy Efficient Window Coverings.”

[7] Verger, R. “This smart window uses electricity to quickly change from clear to dark.” Popular Science.


[9] ENERGY STAR. “Sample ENERGY STAR Scorecard.”

[10] Azhar, S. “Building Information Modeling (BIM): Trends, Benefits, Risks, and Challenges for the AEC Industry.” Leadership and Management in Engineering.

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